Can Automated Testing Save us from UX Design Flaws?

A friend of mine was recently visiting a large home improvement store. He needed to use the Wifi, after acknowledging the Terms of Use in the store’s app, he proceeded to connect to the Wifi. At this point the checkbox for the Terms of Use automatically unchecked itself, putting him in an endless loop. No one in the store had a clue as to who could help fix the problem?

When he went back to store 2 weeks later, the issue still persisted. In the meantime, I imagine the store had unhappy customers and more importantly, the store lost valuable insights about buyer’s purchasing intent or their comparison shopping habits. In this case, it may be that the app was not tested on the type of device my friend was using. I bring up this example because many of us have run into similar issues with user experience UX with apps.

Lack of attending to UX issues in popular Apps: I am surprised by the lack of attention to details in the UX design in many Apps from large B2C companies with millions of users. Here are some common issues I see.

  • Words cutoff. Perhaps, you may be tempted to think this is not such a big issue until you realize that word in question may be the price of an item or a social security number.
  • Poor choice of words and phrases for prompts including the length of the prompt. Improper capitalization in prompts and buttons in UI. We take better care in avoiding such issues in our personal 1×1 communications such as email. Should we not be paying better attention to such details in our apps and websites used by millions of people, sometimes many times a day? What does such experience say about our brand?
  • Overlapping text.

I can go on but let me focus on the root cause of these issues. I do think that companies are beginning to pay more attention to such issues by hiring more UX designers as highlighted in a recent research note by Redpoint Ventures. I would like to add that even if companies don’t have the means to hire UX designers, there is a wealth of UX design best practices from GoogleApple and Adobe.

App Testing to the rescue?

While there needs to be more attention to UX design in general, the sure way to catch these issues before it goes into production is by catching in-app testing. However, this is a hard task since UI testing today is very much manual and a time-consuming process today. The pace applications release cycle may not allow for exhaustive manual testing, particularly for UX design with every release.

Automation of UX design testing

So, the logical question is why not automate testing for UX design? Is not automation the mantra for DevOps and has been the calling cry for the past few years. Unlike the backend and API testing, UI is hard to automate since there are a lot of moving parts which frustrates automation of UI testing. Even small changes to the location of controls, texts on controls and changes to logic make it challenging to automate the testing of UI. Frameworks like Appium and Selenium are a big improvement, they still require a lot of scripting and are not resilient to UI changes.

We faced these issues in our previous jobs which was one of the motivations for starting Sofy. Our focus has been to solve such hard problem among other things in a friction-free way without requiring access to the applications source code or requiring testers to write test scripts. We call it Visual Quality testing. Thanks to secular trends in hyperscale clouds and advances in AI and ML, this is now possible.

Visual Quality testing

Sofy’s Visual Quality tests apps UI against best UX Design practices, reports variances and suggests ways to improve the design. It also inspects conformance to UI Accessibility guidelines and reports deviances from the standards. Check us out at https://sofy.ai.

We look forward to thoughts on the topic, what methods do you deploy to ensure great UX design for your apps?

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